Marion O'Brien

  • Professor, Director of Family Research Center and Associate Dean for Research
  • Human Development and Family Studies, UNCG

[Dr. O'Brien passed away in 2015. The following biographical statement represents her work during her activity at UNC Greensboro.] My primary research interests involve parenting, child care, and children's social and cognitive development. I am currently collaborating with other researchers at UNCG on the STAR project examining emotional and cognitive contributions to early school success (for more information, see http://www.star4kids.org/). I also contribute to the RIGHT Track project, a longitudinal study of children's social behavior (http://www.uncg.edu/~psycap/righttrack.html). I am also interested in parenting and family adaptation when a child is diagnosed with a developmental disability, and published a book for professionals who work with families of children with autism, Beyond the Autism Diagnosis (http://www.brookespublishing.com/store/books/obrien-7519/index.htm). For the last 15 years I have been one of the investigators for the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, a national longitudinal study of more than 1,200 families from 10 locations around the U.S. For more information about this study, see http://secc.rti.org. At UNCG, I am the Director of the Family Research Center (www.uncg.edu/frc), where faculty and graduate students conduct research on a wide range of issues involving families and children. I teach graduate courses in social development and research methods. I also serve the School of Human Environmental Sciences (http://www.uncg.edu/hes/) as Associate Dean for Research. In this capacity, I work to enhance the School's scholarship and research mission.

There are 29 included publications by Marion O'Brien :

TitleDateViewsBrief Description
African American and European American Mothers' Beliefs About Negative Emotions and Emotion Socialization Practices 2012 2031 Objective . The authors examined mothers’ beliefs about their children's negative emotions and their emotion socialization practices. Design . A total of 65 African American and 137 European American mothers of 5-year-old children reported their beli...
Antecedents of maternal sensitivity during distressing tasks: Integrating attachment, social information processing, and psychobiological perspectives 2015 21 Predictors of maternal sensitivity to infant distress were examined among 259 primiparous mothers. The Adult Attachment Interview, self-reports of personality and emotional functioning, and measures of physiological, emotional, and cognitive response...
Cardiovascular Regulation Profile Predicts Developmental Trajectory of BMI and Pediatric Obesity 2011 1293 The present study examined the role of cardiovascular regulation in predicting pediatric obesity. Participants for this study included 268 children (141 girls) obtained from a larger ongoing longitudinal study. To assess cardiac vagal regulation, res...
Cognitive and emotional processes as predictors of a successful transition into school 2017 25 Research Findings: The aim of this research was to delineate developmental processes that contribute to early school success. To achieve this aim, we examined emotion regulation, executive functioning, emotion knowledge, and metacognition at ages 3 a...
Contributions of Child’s Physiology and Maternal Behavior to Children’s Trajectories of Temperamental Reactivity 2010 963 Trajectories of children’s temperamental reactivity (negative affectivity and surgency) were examined in a community sample of 370 children across the ages of 4 to 7 using Hierarchical Linear Modeling. Children’s physiological reactivity (respiratory...
Developmental Dynamics of Emotion and Cognition Processes in Preschoolers 2012 1241 Dynamic relations during the preschool years across processes of control and understanding in the domains of emotion and cognition were examined. Participants were 263 children (42% non-White) and their mothers who were seen first when the children w...
Differential Effects of Maternal Sensitivity to Infant Distress and Nondistress on Social-Emotional Functioning 2009 1358 Associations between maternal sensitivity to infant distress and nondistress and infant social-emotional adjustment were examined in a subset of dyads from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care (N = 376). Mothers reported on infant temperament at 1 and...
Differentiating Maternal Sensitivity to Infant Distress and Non-Distress 2012 983 Drawing from a domain specificity perspective, we assert that maternal sensitivity to infant distress cues is distinct from maternal sensitivity to non-distress cues. We review evidence from prior research demonstrating that the two constructs have m...
Differentiating Processes of Control and Understanding in the Early Development of Emotion and Cognition 2012 858 In this study, we examined the hypothesis that preschoolers' performance on emotion and cognitive tasks is organized into discrete processes of control and understanding within the domains of emotion and cognition. Additionally, we examined the relat...
Do hours spent watching television at age 3 and 4 predict vocabulary and executive functioning at age 5? 2015 15 We examined the impact of television viewing at ages 3 and 4 on vocabulary and at age 5 on executive functioning in the context of home learning environment and parental scaffolding. Children (N = 263) were seen in the lab when they were 3 years old ...
Early physiological regulation predicts the trajectory of externalizing behaviors across the preschool period 2014 21 Early assessments of children's physiological functioning are shown to predict subsequentdevelopmental outcomes. However, individual changes that occur in the development ofphysiological systems may be associated with the pattern of change in behavio...
Emotion and cognition processes in preschool children 2008 26 The core processes of emotion understanding, emotion control, cognitive understanding, andcognitive control and their association with early indicators of social and academic success wereexamined in a sample of 141 3-year-old children. Confirmatory f...
European-American and African-American Mothers' Emotion Socialization Practices Relate Differently to Their Children's Academic and Social-emotional Competence 2012 25 The current study examines whether the relation between mothers' responses to their children's negative emotions and teachers' reports of children's academic performance and social-emotional competence are similar or different for European-American a...
Family Stress and Parental Responses to Children’s Negative Emotions: Tests of the Spillover, Crossover, and Compensatory Hypotheses 2009 1865 The relations between 4 sources of family stress (marital dissatisfaction, home chaos, parental depressive symptoms, and job role dissatisfaction) and the emotion socialization practice of mothers’ and fathers’ responses to children’s negative emotio...
Identifying mother-child interaction styles using a person-centered approach 2014 34 Parent–child conflict in the context of a supportive relationship has been discussed as a potentially constructive interaction pattern; the current study is the first to test this using a holistic analytic approach. Interaction styles, defined as mot...
Individual differences in trajectories of emotion regulation processes: The effects of maternal depressive symptomatology and children’s physiological regulation. 2008 2377 Trajectories of emotion regulation processes were examined in a community sample of 269 children across the ages of 4 to 7 using hierarchical linear modeling. Maternal depressive symptomatology (Symptom Checklist–90) and children’s physiological reac...
Links between Family Social Status and Preschoolers' Persistence: The Role of Maternal Values and Quality of Parenting 2012 1142 Children who develop persistence in the preschool years are likely to function more effectively during the transition into school. In this study of 231 3-year-old children and their mothers, we examined the relations among family social status, mater...
Longitudinal Associations Between Children's Understanding of Emotions and Theory of Mind 2011 1191 Theory of mind competence and knowledge of emotions were studied longitudinally in a sample of preschoolers aged 3 (n=263) and 4 (n=244) years. Children were assessed using standard measures of theory of mind and emotion knowledge. Three competing hy...
Maternal Expressive Style and Children's Emotional Development 2012 1317 Maternal expressive styles, based on a combination of positive and negative expressive patterns, were identified at two points in time and related to multiple aspects of preschool children's emotional development. Mother–child pairs from 260 families...
Maternal physiological dysregulation while parenting poses risk for infant attachment disorganization and behavior problems 2017 24 The extent to which indices of maternal physiological arousal (skin conductance augmentation) and regulation (vagal withdrawal) while parenting predict infant attachment disorganization and behavior problems directly or indirectly via maternal sensit...
Moderate Vagal Withdrawal in 3.5-Year-Old Children is Associated with Optimal Performance on Executive Function Tasks 2010 961 Vagal tone (measured via respiratory sinus arrhythmia, RSA) and vagal withdrawal (measured by decreases in RSA) have been identified as physiological measures of self-regulation, but little is known how they may relate to the regulation of cognitive ...
Parental ADHD Symptomology and Ineffective Parenting: The Connecting Link of Home Chaos 2010 1729 Objective. This study examines links between maternal and paternal attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and parenting practices that require inhibition of impulses, sustained attention, and consistency; the role of home chaos in t...
Parenting and the decline of physical activity from age 9 to 15 2011 690 Background: There is a rapid decline in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during middle childhood and adolescence. Information on the environmental factors implicated in this decline is limited. This study focuses on family factors associ...
Pathways by which mothers’ physiological arousal and regulation while caregiving predict sensitivity to infant distress 2016 16 Pathways by which maternal physiological arousal (skin conductance level [SCL]) and regulation (respiratory sinus arrhythmia [RSA] withdrawal) while parenting are linked with concurrent and subsequent maternal sensitivity were examined. Mothers’ (N =...
Preschool-aged children's understanding of gratitude: Relations with emotion and mental state knowledge 2012 2232 Developmental precursors to children's early understanding of gratitude were examined. A diverse group of 263 children was tested for emotion and mental state knowledge at ages 3 and 4, and their understanding of gratitude was measured at age 5. Chil...
The relation between maternal emotional support and child physiological regulation across the preschool years 2012 20 Trajectories of baseline RSA (respiratory sinus arrhythmia), an index of reactivity, and vagal withdrawal, an index of regulation, across the preschool period were examined. In addition, maternal emotional support was investigated as a potential time...
The relation of maternal emotional and cognitive support during problem solving to pre-academic skills in preschoolers 2012 808 Using a sample of 263 mother–child dyads, we examined the extent to which maternal emotional and cognitive support during a joint problem-solving task when children were 3-years-old predicted children's academic skills 1 year later independent of eac...
The Relationship of Body Mass Index and Behavior in Children 2008 863 Objectives- To examine reciprocal relations between body mass index (BMI), internalizing problems and externalizing problems from infancy through middle childhood with a focus on sex and history of overweight. Study design- Data from 1254 children i...
Shyness and Vocabulary: the Roles of Executive Functioning and Home Environmental Stimulation 2011 1305 Although shyness has often been found to be negatively related to vocabulary, few studies have examined the processes that produce or modify this relation. The present study examined executive functioning skills and home environmental stimulation as ...